Friday, July 15, 2011

Coming from Evening Church

Kenneth Clark called Samuel Palmer England's Van Gogh. With due respect to Sir Kenneth, this is a rather odd judgement. 

Van Gogh was conditioned by his vision: the revelation that he felt he was given, he found it challenging to receive.  Its intensity escalated, breaking containing form.

Palmer found his way to a disciplined pattern of imagination (as shown here) that was, in time, for complex personal reasons surrendered. It was always shaped by a guiding sense of form.

Palmer accessed an imaginative world through disciplined means, Van Gogh's painting was an attempt to contain his ecstasy. Palmer's vision was shaped by a coherent pattern of thinking rooted in a tradition, Van Gogh's was shaped by a set of feelings that had only a personally shaped pattern of thinking that groped form after the intensity of his vision. 

The results are very different. There is something serene about Palmer's vision. There is something alluringly disturbing about Van Gogh's

There is a new biography of Palmer.

that has been well-reviewed and which is timely. Palmer is another neglected national treasure.

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